TORONTO – For years Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan have been the Brazilian “torch carriers” in the Verizon IndyCar Series and there hasn’t really been that next top-Brazilian-driver-in-waiting set to carry the torch after either driver may move on down the road.
One who was well positioned for that a number of years ago was Brazilian talent Raphael “Rafa” Matos, who won the 2007 Formula Atlantic and 2008 Indy Lights titles before moving into the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2009, driving with the Dragon Racing team for two years.
Matos then did a partial season with AFS Racing in 2011 but hasn’t been in IndyCar since, instead having raced stock cars in Brazil.
His presence here this weekend shouldn’t mean you shouldn’t forget about him.
The 34-year-old Brazilian is making the rounds in the Honda Indy Toronto paddock this weekend, coaching Cameron Das of JAY Motorsports in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series (Das is a 16-year-old rookie out of Baltimore) and hoping to reinstall himself as a member of the IndyCar paddock.
“Yeah, I’m here coaching this 16-year-old this weekend,” Matos told NBC Sports. “It came up last minute and we only met this weekend.
“But being here really ignites the passion, seeing old friends and familiar faces. It makes me hungry for a comeback.”
In 38 career starts, Matos has a best finish of fourth on two occasions and was also 13th and 14th in the points in 2009 and 2010.